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Thread: repression vs letting go

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    Default repression vs letting go

    of negative emotions. how do you tell the difference?

    sometimes I think I've let go... but I haven't.

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    Notice the tension in your body. Are you holding yourself rigidly? Is your stomach knotted? Does your voice sound strained? Do you feel yourself actively holding something back, pushing it away, or are you at peace? Pay attention to any tightness in your shoulders. Hit something - did you feel anger or another emotion go into the object when you hit it (ehhh, that sounds weird - what I mean is when you're holding back something your body will tell you through action, and hitting something can tell you what emotion you're feeling -- if the tension builds and there is a lot of force behind your hit, and you want to keep hitting it, you'll notice all the anger going through you into it. If your hits are weak and ineffectual, and you feel like you don't have the energy to hardly do much of any impact, the sadness you're feeling sort of leaks out and puddles up around you, your body droops. Anxiety comes out in quick but glancing sort of hits - too much energy.)

    I'm bad at knowing when I'm holding onto something, or recognizing my emotional states. I've tried different things and still find it difficult. The only thing that gives me any real insight is my body - paying attention to it, how I'm holding myself, how I'm sitting/standing, my movements. Some emotions are obvious, but stuff that I've repressed can hide from me to come out later unless I find it first and let it out.

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    that's exactly the sort of practical advice I was hoping for

    my jaws tell me a lot. it's a wonder my teeth aren't reduced to nubs after all these years lol. I've always felt too corny about punching a pillow but that sounds like it could come in useful.

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    Quote Originally Posted by lungs View Post
    that's exactly the sort of practical advice I was hoping for


    my jaws tell me a lot. it's a wonder my teeth aren't reduced to nubs after all these years lol. I've always felt too corny about punching a pillow but that sounds like it could come in useful.
    My repressed emotions are most easily expressed through anger, so it feels especially good to hit something lol.
    Last edited by squark; 02-06-2013 at 02:27 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by lungs View Post
    that's exactly the sort of practical advice I was hoping for

    my jaws tell me a lot. it's a wonder my teeth aren't reduced to nubs after all these years lol. I've always felt too corny about punching a pillow but that sounds like it could come in useful.

    Scream into one with all the animalistic warrior scream breath you have. It helps in crisis anyway.

    Now this is a story all about how, my type got changed, turned upside down. Just wait for a minute and watch chatbox right there, & I'll tell how Gem became the moderator with blue hair.

    In typology central friended and praised, on the picture thread was where she spent most her days. Chilling out, selfies, relaxing all cool, And all typing some people and getting them schooled.

    When a couple of girls who were up to no good, Started annoying her & her friends in the forumhood, She got in one little flame war & got pissed off & said 'I'm moving in with that exboyfriend in the forum with the socionics toffs.

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    I find I'm tired for no reason and my stress-responses come out of nowhere when it's repression. Letting go is relaxing.

    ETA: Feeling nothing, nothing at all in a situation where I'd expect some twitch of a response is also a dead give-away. YMMV
    Last edited by GuavaDrunk; 02-06-2013 at 04:33 PM.
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    There's a quote i like by Jack Kornfield: "Letting go is not getting rid of. Letting go is letting be." This is actually a question I've battled with myself. People try all sorts of things to make their negative emotions go away: meditation, positive affirmations, cognitive-behavioral therapy, yoga or exercise, drugs, food, sex, hypnosis, prayer, etc. I have met people on meditation retreats who have been at it for decades: these are people who have embarked on some of the most arduous and transformative paths of inner transformation available. And yet these people still talked about things like anxiety, depression, anger, etc.

    Eventually I realized, I was missing the whole point. I was using my meditation practice as a form of escape or control (what would qualify as repression): the implicit agenda was to "feel good." But this control agenda was ironically self-defeating. The more I wished not to feel unhappy, the more unhappy I became. I was trying to get rid of the 83 problems, without addressing the 84th. Emotions are there for a reason, whether they are pleasant, unpleasant, or neither pleasant nor unpleasant. They're vital parts of our humanity that help direct our lives, move us towards things that will benefit us, and protect us from danger or violation. We none of us really want to become emotionally numb or incapable of feeling certain feelings. So what do the guru-types mean by "letting go" and liberation?

    The important point is that you let go of what is not necessary. Sometimes an emotion is not necessary, and it can be let go of pretty easily. Other times, however, what is not necessary is our reaction to an emotion that is "necessary" (in the sense that we can't let go of it). Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional. There's this equation:

    Pain x Resistance = Suffering

    Letting go is really about letting go of the struggle with life's pain. When we judge and emotion as "bad" we create secondary, tertiary, and even quaternary or quinary emotions -- layers of complication and resistance to the initial emotion. For instance, say you notice you're feeling anxious about an upcoming confrontation or meeting with someone you know has conflicting interests to yours. Strained relations are a fact of life, and anxiety in such situations in normal. However, do you complicate the initial emotion by wishing it would go away? You end up having anxiety about your anxiety. Or depression about the anxiety about your anxiety. And eventually, if this goes on long enough, you can have sadness about the frustration at how depressed you are about your anxiety about your anxiety. Here are some of the routes by which we complicate the emotion (these come from a book called The Happiness Trap by Russ Harris):

    1.) I wish I weren't feeling this feeling. or I shouldn't feel like this. This creates a struggle with reality, which simply creates more anxiety or irritation about the initial anxiety. Essentially, you're saying "Reality is wrong!" No matter how much you rage against reality, it's just a losing game. So, the first step is simply to accept that however you're feeling is the way you're feeling right now. It's neither good not bad. It's simply a temporary response to a stimulus.

    2.) What did I do to deserve this? This sends you into a tailspin of trying to figure out what you did wrong that was so bad that the universe has decided to punish you with this uncomfortable feeling. I fall into this one a lot. The truth is, you didn't do anything wrong and emotional pain is not a punishment.

    3.) Why am I like this? The human brain, which has evolved an exquisite capacity for problem-solving, can become very good at coming up with hypotheses about why we are feeling this way or that. This is fine if the explanation helps us develop in self-compassion through understanding (tracing anxiety or depression back to abuse, for instance, or loss that we haven't allowed ourselves to grieve). But sometimes, this turns into the vicious cycle of self-definition, where we come to negative conclusions about ourselves: that we're fundamentally "broken' or "deficient" in some way, or that there's something inherently wrong with us when usually, we simply reacted to a very human dilemma in a very human way.

    Our society gives us the impression that there's something wrong with us when we're not feeling happy. Recently, I was listening to the Kojo Nnamdi show on NPR, and he had a panel or physicians discussing wellness programs in workplaces. One of them made an interesting point. The word "stress" has actually only fairly recently been applied to human beings. In the early 20th century, it was primarily an engineering term that referred to pressure that physical, brick and steel structures experienced. If you were to look at what word people used to use before to describe what we call "stress", the word would have been "grief." And he made the point that, "in the past, people were allowed to grieve the way life is."

    Holding your emotions lightly and not blaming yourself for being unhappy is ultimately the most useful and productive way to deal with things. Letting go of the tendency to define yourself, to pin yourself down into something solid, is the ultimate goal. Learning to live with ambiguity, to be a river rather than a rock, can be really healing. I like this quote by Eckhart Tolle: “Give up defining yourself - to yourself or to others. You won't die. You will come to life. And don't be concerned with how others define you. When they define you, they are limiting themselves, so it's their problem. Whenever you interact with people, don't be there primarily as a function or a role, but as the field of conscious Presence. You can only lose something that you have, but you cannot lose something that you are.”

    I'm not going to pretend I don't still struggle with this. This is pretty counterintuitive stuff. Just this morning (and just about every morning for the last week or so), I've been dealing with a lot of anxiety which I've complicated with my resistance to it. It's hard to remember all this advice in the thick of things, but I'm slowly getting better at letting go of what is unnecessary. The important thing is self-kindness.
    "How could we forget those ancient myths that stand at the beginning of all races, the myths about dragons that at the last moment are transformed into princesses? Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love."
    -- Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

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    damn, animal. thats da troof but its soo hardddddd lol.

    i bet you could make $$$ as a life coach or spiritual advisor.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Animal View Post
    The word "stress" has actually only fairly recently been applied to human beings. In the early 20th century, it was primarily an engineering term that referred to pressure that physical, brick and steel structures experienced. If you were to look at what word people used to use before to describe what we call "stress", the word would have been "grief." And he made the point that, "in the past, people were allowed to grieve the way life is."
    All good stuff but this one is a funny factoid. +1 for self-kindness.
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    Quote Originally Posted by lungs View Post
    damn, animal. thats da troof but its soo hardddddd lol.

    i bet you could make $$$ as a life coach or spiritual advisor.
    Yeah, it's definitely hard. Not hard in the sense that you have to do a lot of work. But that it's hard to remember the advice when time comes. It helps me to remember that, in any given moment, we're already doing something. That something is either helpful or unhelpful, so noticing what we're doing internally or externally and making sure it's helping rather than harming can help.

    I've actually considered being a life coach or something. I think I ought to master this stuff myself before I can make money off of it, but I know guys much stupider than me who do it for a living, lol.
    "How could we forget those ancient myths that stand at the beginning of all races, the myths about dragons that at the last moment are transformed into princesses? Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love."
    -- Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

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    The moment you release those through some kind of action taken, it's letting it flow outside, getting rid of it, all this excess in one go. You have to put it into something - anything will do. It works fine when you have to deal with some people that just can't shut up and can go for like 10 hours nonstop whining and bitching. This is negative emotions to me.

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    Lungs, I think you grew up in an envrionment where you were abused and so it made you wary to trust and to try and be as objective as possible as a coping mechanism so you felt like you had some power back.

    But yeah like Baby said, emotions are simply there to help guide you from being abused. Without emotions, you would not be able to tell when an abusive person was trying to fuck with you. Without emotion for others, you wouldn't be able to tell who it is you really love and you wouldn't be able to trust them enough to bring you into their private world.

    So you might then insecurely, tell the whole world what you are feeling, open you up to being prey to people who don't have your best self-interest at heart at all - which makes you think that feelings are weaknesses, and puts you in this cycle.

    I think you just need a lot of love/hugs or something idk. I know you always try to balance the cute with the creepy but focusing on the creepy kind of just depresses you I think when you want to be happy. "You stare at the abyss and it stares back at you" etc.

    So try pure positive thought, try something that makes you lighthearted and happy and still in control.

    I have your back.
    Last edited by bnd; 02-06-2013 at 07:51 PM.

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    Mwahaha.

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    You can't let go of how somebody made you feel because if you did- you would end up allowing them to murder you. Skilled sadists are going to try to do what they can to torture somebody because they're fucked up, making you think that you didn't do enough to 'save them' but it isn't your responsibility to fix up deranged men.

    And yeah there's a difference between being rude for real and teasing somebody and your emotions help tell you the difference.

    I think it's just a matter of not focusing or identifying with the feelings, not making them so *extreme* in your psychological make-up. They are still there, but you use them what they are really for: a Guidance system.

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    The moment BnD runs for advice minister for Se/Ni quadras I can sleep well.

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    You think lungs is repressed, maybe dying, BnD?

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    I think your question kinda misses the point. Letting go of emotions isn't possible without some sort of brain trauma; in a more healthy environment, what has to happen is understand what the problem causing the negative emotions is in the first place, and deal with it at the root level.

    I had repressed my feelings relating to my break-up for a good three/four years. I had shut myself off from socializing (although UCSB was never the opportune place for me to meet people in the first place), grades went down, started listening to sad girl piano pop music; all-in-all did not enjoy myself as much as I figure I should have, and probably didn't take enough advantage of what I was given at the time.

    After four years of repression he contacted me again, right out of the blue and without warning. After we had talked again, all the shit I was feeling came flooding right back to where it was four years prior. I realize now that even through those four years, even so much as thinking about the situation or the guy himself would cause me to freeze up and fill up with vitriol again. What made the difference the second time we started talking again was at some point in our conversations something had "clicked," as it were, in my head. The point where the reasonings I had developed in my head for why things were the way they were synced up with reality, or my first-hand perception of the situation's reality, so I had concrete feedback as to what the actual problem was and why it was neither of our faults. I had never felt anything about my understanding the situation "click," and from that point on I found myself on so much better terms with the whole deal than I had ever been before.


    If simply thinking about the problem angers you, then nothing is resolved. I'm assuming there is something bad actually going on with your life but I don't know the details so I can't say anything that'll bring any sort of substance. But if you're anything like me, then the solution to the problem lies in removing focus from the force outside yourself, returning back to your own needs and desires, and reconstructing your context of the situation with your own desires and the likelihood of achieving them as the basis for understanding. Take from that what you will.


    EDIT I just realized this post was mostly me talking about myself. Oh well.
    Last edited by Galen; 02-07-2013 at 08:53 AM.

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    @Galen do you think everything CAN be explained and eventually "click?" I feel like in my experience that has been a trap.

    i don't mind you talking about yourself. your story is a nice human and hopeful one. I wonder if it was resolved less from a mental clicking and more as the emotional closure of just talking to him at all after all that time, though (sorry to be invalidating, that's just a thought from an outside and ignorant perspective)

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    Quote Originally Posted by lungs View Post
    @Galen do you think everything CAN be explained and eventually "click?" I feel like in my experience that has been a trap.

    i don't mind you talking about yourself. your story is a nice human and hopeful one. I wonder if it was resolved less from a mental clicking and more as the emotional closure of just talking to him at all after all that time, though (sorry to be invalidating, that's just a thought from an outside and ignorant perspective)
    Well simply talking with him after all the time was what triggered a whole mini-wave of depression and extreme anxiety again, so for me there was much more to it than that.

    In any case, the nature of the epiphany was placing the problem within a much wider context than I was previously aware. It's so easy to get caught up in a myopic frame of mind that muddles over the same four incidents over and over, "how could he have done this to me fuck him agfgdfadgag," but doing so renders you blind to the bigger picture. By putting so much emphasis on the thing outside yourself, you forget that you are a person too, with wants and desires that are trying to be forced into a situation where they'll never be satisfied.

    Again, I don't know what's going on with you specifically so I'm just conveying my own experiences instead. Instead I say to look again at The Serenity Prayer; I'm nowhere near religious of any sort, but the whole passage is heavily important for emotional well-being. Just replace God with the deity of your choosing.

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    Repression: I am slightly pissed off - angsty when the person who caused the repressed emotion shows up.
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    Yes I like what squark said,

    many times I've thought I've let something go but then I'll think about it later and start to get upset about it, and many times the only reason I've let something go is founded in cold hard logic and advantage. Say someone screws me over just a little bit but the effort required to get back or get what you feel is fair out of the situation costs more than to just let it be, then logically you are in a better position to let it go. Still regardless emotionally the perpetrator annoys me like a rat, instead of thinking its not worth pursuing, I feel like they are scurrying away and getting away with it. Usually I'm relatively at peace with letting them scurry away because in the big picture there actions aren't worth the effort and pursuing them will only bring about a long term waste of effort that could be spent enjoying life, but occasionally I'll see something someone else does or may do that reminds me of the perpetrator that got away and I'll start to get pissed off and defensive and tense up and the anger will come back. Especially if its looking at another situation where you could be the victim like before and you are thinking "not this shit again, I'm not gonna let it happen like last time". People also assume the anger is all towards the person, but in many ways the anger is directed at myself for letting someone do something to me or allowing them to effect me emotionally. Say the perpetrator is a thief, then I feel angry for having given them the opportunity to steal. Say the perpetrator is trying to verbally abuse you in either a mild or serious way and convince you that you are worthless and have no place in the world, then I feel angry for letting the barrage of assaults effect my own view of my self-worth. In every case I'll realize say that arguing with the verbally abusive person is not worth the time than simply ignoring them, but still it feels like I am letting them get away and merely repressing my anger towards them. In some ways I confuse the wisdom of merely doing nothing with being a coward and not confronting others and thus allowing myself to be in an inferior position. In some ways I remind myself of what Sun Tzu would say:

    - Thus it is that in war the victorious strategist only seeks battle after the victory has been won, whereas he who is destined to defeat first fights and afterwards looks for victory.

    Therefore I remind myself that unless their is actually something to gain from the conflict, it is better to avoid. War and conflict is about a competition of wills for an objective and some people's only objective is to feed off your demise out of jealous insecurity, and even if you win in shattering their will, you will always be further behind for having engaged them. Fighting is only smart when there is something to gain, thus letting go is superior when the enemy is unaware of your objective for victory. When he is aware, let him think you are unaware so that you are at an advantage. Also no state is at an advantage from prolonged conflict or war, all conflict simply has an objective to it and those that will resist that objective. Something like "feeling worthy" is an objective that is easily obtainable within the self, and no person can take this from you unless you allow them to do so. Also understanding the enemy and the self is important, if there objectives are to constructively criticize then it is worth listening, but otherwise let go of the entire interaction unless they force you to fight them and then speed, momentum, and surprise are the best advantages which you will have if you appear unwillingly to fight at first but instead spend the initial time understanding the situation.

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    Well... it's like everybody has different vulnerabilities and stuff. If you want power you do have to become a chess master, and of course- chess is really hard. The moves you can make, the strategy its complicated, the wrong one move- you're no long in power anymore really.

    That's why I think, having power over others is stupid, the person ends up becoming their own enemy kinda and they say something campy and they disappear in black smoke.

    Those born into power are kinda taught to say the right thing at all possible times, to not let them say anything that would hurt themselves- in public, so people think they deserve that power. That's true power in the human world nowadays. When you're a rich powerful celebrity, the only thing that can get you into trouble is what you say, and who you are caught having sex with.

    And these power have checks and balances, obviously we all are kinda narcisisstic in our own way and want to transform of all reality to something we see fit, but this gaslighting is balanced by people who want to gaslight you...

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    What does it mean to let go? Does that just mean, vent?

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    Chess is only just one game with precisely defined rules -- the universe is not as simple.

    Also people keeping each other in "check" is only when there is conflict like between predators and prey. Since both are mutually dependent on the other then its not desirable to destroy the other, and thus the best option for both parties is to keep the other in check. Whats even better than that for both parties is "integration" in which both grow with each other. This is similar to symbiotic systems in ecology. In fact the strangest fact of biological evolution is that in some ways it seems to be an experiment on how different things can integrate, but its all happening in a world where entropy is growing.

    This is even true with say gaslighting, sometimes people just have different world views or Weltanschauung. Sometimes its possible to integrate, sometimes you keep each other in check or sometimes it interferes. I think this is the psychological basis for isolation or positive relationships, though none of that will ultimately matter as the heat death of the universe approaches. Just j/k, but the point is I think the world is more complex than just chess.

    Chess the entire point is to capture the king and all the kings army is there to capture the other king. The rules of the game demand the capture of the enemy king or death. Maybe if you are purely defensive you will fight back all attacks made towards your king and be left with more pieces, but still the game doesn't end until the other king is captured. Also the other funny thing to notice is that if the enemy queen survives and only your king is left on the board, there is no way for your king to take the enemy queen. The king however can take virtually any other piece by moving except the queen/king. So I guess if your defensive and only your king and queen remain, and only the other person's king is left you could argue its a "defensive" game, but this would be a strange way of looking at the game and it would be a pain in the ass to use only a king and queen to checkmate someone else.

    Here you can see the logic of social status and warfare in the middle ages, lessons can be learned from chess, but its only a single game with precisely defined rules. Reality isn't defined by absolutist laws.
    Last edited by male; 02-07-2013 at 08:50 PM.

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